Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota State Fair’

Dairy Princesses

Dairy Princesses. Photo courtesy of the New York State Fair

Worth a trip from anywhere, both the New York State Fair and the Minnesota State Fair opened today for their annual 12-day run. ATZ still has a long way to go before reaching our goal of attending a fair in all 50 states, but we have been to both of these great state fairs. The Syracuse fair is accessible by Greyhound or Amtrak from New York City and has a midway by Strates Shows, founded in 1923 and America’s last carnival still traveling by rail. Minnesota is famous for its carefully curated independent midway and an array of unusual new foods. The two fairs run through Labor Day, September 2nd.

New York State Fair

A special exhibit on the history of the New York State Fair, which opened in 1841 and is America’s first State Fair, debuts this year. Visitors enter via a replica of the columned carriage entrance that was used in the 1900s. Among the artifacts on display are costumes from the early 20th century when the fair closed at dusk and a Mardi Gras parade entertained fair-goers at night, clay models of butter sculptures from the last nine years, and a miniature model of the mighty James E. Strates Midway.

Space Roller

Space Roller, James E Strates Midway at New York State Fair

The Fair’s theme is “Sharing the Bounty and Pride of New York.” New York grown and produced food and beverages will be sampled and sold under the “Taste NY” banner throughout the fair this year. Visitors who stop by locations on the “Taste NY Trail” will be eligible to win prizes. Among the vendors are nine breweries, ten wineries, honey producers, dairies, and organic farmers.

This year’s entertainment includes the Nerveless Nocks Thrill Show; Mutts Gone Nuts Comedy Dog Act; Team Sandtastic’s annual sand castle in the Horticulture Building; the Walker Brothers’ Circus; and Extreme Log Makeover featuring a team of female chain saw carvers.

Special Days: Dairy Day, Beef Day, Veteran’s Day, Women’s Day, Gospel Weekend

Grandstand Shows: Toby Keith, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, All Star Monster Truck Show, NYS Championship Demolition Derby & Double Figure 8 Races

Minnesota State Fair

Space Tower

The Space Tower, built in 1965 and now regarded as one of the landmarks of the fair. Photo courtesy of Minnesota State Fair

The first Minnesota State Fair was held in 1859 and moved to its present location between Minneapolis and St Paul in 1889. Among the historic privately owned attractions at the fair are the 1913 Ye Old Mill tunnel of love ride, a Haunted House built by the same designers as Disney’s Haunted Mansion, and the 330-foot Space Tower built in 1965 by the same manufacturer as Coney Island’s Astrotower.

New foods for the 2013 Minnesota Fair were announced in July in plenty of time to whet people’s appetites. Lobster Macaroni & Cheese, Candied Bacon Cannoli and Fried Pickles ‘n’ Chocolate are some of the unusual combos. We’ll have the Craft Beer Battered Onion Rings and the Comet Corn, icy cold caramel corn made with liquid nitrogen, please! A Food Finder on the fair’s website lists 83 different foods on a stick and their locations. Reporters typically review all of the new foods and locals come back day after day to eat their way through the fair.

Sweet Corn Corndog

Sweet Corn Corndog at Campbell’s Flavored Corndogs. Photo coutesy of Minnesota State Fair

This year’s entertainment includes the Giant Singalong, Equimania, The LEGO Road Trip, Canstruction, Krazy Maze, Military Appreciation Day Flyover & Vietnam Era Veterans Parade and Program, and “Ice” Skating on a sheet of synthetic ice.

Grandstand shows: Sheryl Crow, Depeche Mode, 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival presented by Walker Art Center, MSF Amateur Talent Contest Finals and Tim McGraw

Minnesota State Fair

Agriculture Building and Skyride. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair

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It’s a treat to see the classic and rarely seen Sky Wheel, one of the flashiest carnival rides of the late 1950’s and ’60s, in action on the midway at the 2012 Wisconsin State Fair. Coney Island photographer/videographer Jim McDonnell made a trip to the fair this past weekend and brought back this POV video.

The ride is owned by McDonagh Amusements and is a 1965 Allan Herschell model refurbished by them in 2003. After the Wisconsin fair closes on August 12, the Sky Wheel will travel to two American fairs famed for their independent midways: the Minnesota State Fair (August 23- September 3) and the State Fair of Texas (September 28-October 21).

Seeing the video brings back memories of the Velare brothers, Curtis and Elmer, who pioneered the eye-catching idea of two Ferris wheels, and then four, set up in a row. Their first Sky Wheel — a double wheel– debuted with Royal American Shows at Tampa and Orlando in 1940. In 1958, they introduced the Space Wheel– a double double wheel. A Billboard ad from our collection trumpets the 92-foot-tall Space Wheel as “The Greatest of all Portable Rides,” “Brilliantly Illuminated,” “Unequaled Public Appeal” and “Front Page Publicity.”

In 1960, Allan Herschell, the merry-go-round and kiddie ride manufacturer in North Tonawanda, NY, bought the patent rights to manufacture the double wheels from the Velares. Herschell president Lyndon Wilson paid tribute to the Velares’ tenacity and ingenuity. He told the Billboard that it took 20 years of hard work by the Velares to develop the double wheel and the double double wheel from wheels which were all steel and had cable drives to wheels with part aluminum, part steel construction and dual friction drives that operate like clockwork.

1958 Ad for Velare Bros Space Wheel. © Tricia Vita Collection/AmusingtheZillion


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